3 Peaks Yacht Race–Silverware

About the Three Peaks Yacht Race

Teams of four or five per yacht sail from Barmouth to Fort William, with two of the crew climbing the highest mountains of Wales, England and Scotland en route, running the equivalent of three marathons in 3 or 4 days. A unique feature of the race is that rowing is allowed, and over the years, many teams have been known to row during light airs and periods of calm. Back up support teams can meet the teams on land but are restricted in what support they can give.

Barmouth to Caernarfon

The first leg starts from Barmouth, yachts sail approximately 62 sea miles, past Bardsey Island and the Lleyn Peninsula, over Caernarfon Bar and into Caernarfon. The runners set off to the summit of Snowdon via the Mountain Ranger Path and return via Llanberis, a distance of 24 miles.

Caernarfon to Whitehaven

Here crews can opt to sail around the isle of Anglesey or continue, under sail only, through the Menai Straits. This has been an interesting decision for some skippers to make in previous years. After a further sail of approximately 100 sea miles yachts arrive at the marina in Whitehaven. This is the longest land leg of the race, the distance to Scafell Pike and back being some 40 miles, so bicycles are allowed for the first part. The ride is via a cycle path and forestry track. Racers leave bikes at Black Sail Youth Hostel before crossing Black Sail Pass to Wasdale Head and climbing Scafell Pike then returning to their yacht via the same route.

Whitehaven to Fort William

This sailing leg is a distance of approximately 227 sea miles rounding the Mull of Kintyre and into the Sound of Jura, through some of the most beautiful scenery but with many tidal gates to negotiate. The race finishes just north of Fort William at Corpach, the entrance to the Caledonian Canal. The runners set off to the summit of Ben Nevis and return to Corpach to cross the finish line.

2015—Team Wight Rose—Reflex 38 Geoff West West—owner of Reflex Lightning, experienced 3 Peaker. Gary Clayton –experienced 3 Peaker and, for his advancing years, a surprisingly nimble fore deck. Paul Jackson –experienced racing sailor but first 3 Peaks. Shelf (Stu Walker) –Runner who has also been part of Wild Spirit Fastnet team, 2nd Three Peaks. Alex Pilkington – Runner , 2nd Three Peaks.

Report A windy first leg from Barmouth up to Caernarfon saw us tacking very close inshore of rocks through Bardsey Sound to catch the tidal eddies. A mistake as we reached the sand bar across the entrance to the Menai Straits costs us about 15 minutes. This plus a couple of other minor errors put us half an hour behind a strong Dutch team on a faster boat but Alex and Shelf our 2 runners pulled this back on the Snowdon ascent.

The second leg up to Whitehaven saw us start sailing just ahead of the Dutch on Rio, but they managed to pass us in the Swellies as we hit a wind hole under a bridge in the notoriously difficult Menai Straits. For a while it was neck and neck, then they pulled away but as the seas increased and wind topped 30 knots they broached a couple of times, ripped a spinnaker and slowed down. The advantage of our symmetric spinnaker became apparent as we neared Whitehaven, the wind dropped and with light following breezes and we were first in through the lock.

Despite being one of the few teams without a support team . . . → Read More: 3 Peaks Yacht Race–Silverware

Programme changes–Offers

A few programme changes so the odd special offer.

1) Extra race to Cherbourg starting 4th September–Friday join at 1600 latest

2) Cruise from 23rd to 31st (BH Mon) August

3) Long weekend to St Vaast Thursday evening 30th July

4) 7 day cross channel starts 17th July–£625 for next booking saving £125

7th out of 72 in Royal Ocean Racing Club

After finishing 8th out of 28 in Class in a fast and exciting Cherbourg race (averaging more than 8 kts) we now lie 7th in the RORC Class 4 table.

7 day RYA course for the cost of 5 starts 17th July

We are experimenting with how our ads work so have an offer on of only £625 for the 7 day RYA course, starting Friday evening 17th July, for the next booking .Applies to both Competent Crew and Day Skipper. We will hold provisional bookings for 4 days on this one.

Qualified for Fastnet

We finished 18th out of 41 in our class for the Eddystone race to secure our Fastnet qualifying miles. The forecast was for very light and variable winds but we got a bit more than that and only struggled to keep going for a couple of hours. We are full for the race to Cherbourg starting 5th June but have places on all other races except the Fastnet due to work, weddings etc. We have a late change to the cruising programme with a long weekend on 11th June at just £125. We plan to take in a good meal at St Vaast and the Saturday morning market.

Trip to St Vaast

We have had to make a couple of programme changes which means we have a long weekend trip to St Vaast from Thursday evening 11th June until Sunday afternoon the 14th June.

St Vaast is a super little port with several good restaurants a great Saturday market and a most unusual ‘Supermarket’ that is known across France.

Because it is a late addition cost is only £125.

8th in Le Havre race

Le Havre race report

It seemed like a good move to go up to Cowes to overnight before the 1000 start for the Le Havre race. It also seemed like a good idea to visit the new Royal Ocean Racing Club house in Cowes and have a drink. The food from the Golden Dragon was good and washed down with several bottles of wine we slept well, but perhaps were not at our finest first thing. It was the first of the Fastnet qualifying races and as the course was 135 NM we decided not to push things too hard and just concentrate on finishing.

The forecast was about 20 kts of wind coming from exactly where we wanted to go so the RORC sent us 30miles the other way before the 105 miles back to Le Havre. After a conservative start, with a strong ESE wind plus the ebbing tide we average about 10 kts down to the first mark off Lulworth range before turning south across the Channel. Some of the fleet turned back to the East against the tide but we went with the majority and close to the wind made about 150 degrees on compass or about due south with the tide and lee way.

When the tide turned the apparent wing increased as did the sea state and we beat down towards Cap Barfleur and a potentially nasty wind against tide situation. After a couple of big bounces we, and quite a few others, tacked off up Channel and waited for the promised wind shift to the South. The shift was later than we had hoped so we had to tack in to the finish and after 23hours and having sailed 165 miles we finished 8th in Class out of 33.

The forecast was for a SW Gale and by turning round and running straight back we thought we could make it into Haslar in time. We flew across in 20 kts on the beam but did get caught by Force 7 at the east end of the Isle of Wight, however the island meant the sea state wasn’t too bad and we sailed into Portsmouth in time to have a couple of pints; 90 miles in 11 hours we deserved them.

Next day was an easy sail back down to Lymington clocking up a total of 285NM in the long weekend.

The next qualifier is the 230 NM Eddystone race at the end of May and it is notorious for either too much or not enough breeze. Several years ago it is also where we achieved Wild Spirits speed record of 16.4 kts through the water with 48 kts of wind behind us. I hope for a bit less this year, NW 5 would be great.

Nab Bouncer

The race round Nab Tower saw 30 kts of apparent against a spring tide resulting in some short steep waves and one competitor breaking a mast. Just the sort of conditions where we can look good and we finished 4th out of 18 in a very competitive class and 12th out of 64 overall.

Caribbean Bound

After this years success I will be skippering Spirit of Juno again for the Caribbean 600 race in February 2016. 6 places have gone already and we have a maximum of 16 in the team. See racing page for more details.